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The Pack That Never Left - 91%

bayern, February 24th, 2019

I got acquainted with Raven’s repertoire quite early, in the mid-80’s to be precise, due to a very good friend of mine’s burning passion for the band. Ironically, the first album I heard was “The Pack Is Back”, the guys’ universally recognized flop, as it happened to be on side A of the cassette this friend gave me (“All for One” was on side B). I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t dislike this effort back then although I wasn’t particularly elated by either of the two instalments. As I didn’t show a very big enthusiasm in checking the band’s other works, my friend shoved them down my throat in the days to come, and thanks to this “brutal” invasion of my musical privacy I came across the album reviewed here.

So it turned out that before the guys sold their souls cheaply to the gods of commercialism and sugarism, they were quite adept at shaking the metalheads’ world with infectious rowdy speedy hymns. Said hymns were largely served on this rousing opus here, one of the early precursors to the speed/thrash wave that started shortly after it wiped... sorry, came out. The band pretty much shot the entire NWOBHM movement into the hyper-active stratosphere, easily overwriting Venom’s moody, cumbersome early exploits in both terms of aggression and production qualities.

Provided that at least half of the material for this second outing was already created before the one presented on the debut, one can only wonder why the band didn’t pull this off earlier… I guess they thought the late-70’s/early-80’s audience wasn’t ready yet for such an intense downpour. Well, episodic outbursts of rage from the works of Scorpions, Motorhead and Accept may have done the preparation work, but again we’re talking a homogenic assault on the senses here, one that couldn’t possibly have a more appropriate start than “Faster Than the Speed of Light”, the message loud and clear, fast ripping metal to the death which sets the tone for the ensuing melee with the sharp cutting riffs, the uncompromising pace and John Gallagher’s spiteful but melodic, attached and comprehensible vocals. However, apart from the staple blitzkrieg skirmishes (“Read All About It”, “Battle Zone”) flying from all sides there’s also this overt strife for more complex ways of expression which lead to the appearance of the more contrived, progressive layout on the still fairly dynamic “To The Limit-To The Top”, and the epic power metal swagger of “Star War”, that last cut providing a template later used by the US heroes Jag Panzer, Omen and Attacker for the creation of whole albums. Yes, the pioneering significance of this opus can’t be measured only in terms of blazing speed although it’s really hard to think of any other nuances with perennial moshers like “Live at The Inferno” and “UXB” rushing at you from all sides, stifling whatever leftovers from the meeker rock-ish debut (“Hard Rock”) have been added as an afterthought.

Yeah, there was something in the water in Newcastle back in those days; the lads over there simply couldn’t sit still and rock with moderation. They all had to be loud and fast and rowdy to the max, playing every other practitioner under the table in terms of intensity. Raven achieved that with something to spare on the album here; the thing is that the chosen stance obviously wasn’t going to cover them with fortune and glory… if only they could have foreseen how profitable the speed/thrash metal movement, one they helped spawn with this no-brainer here, would turn out in the years to come… Alas, they couldn’t, and this led them to all kinds of career-killing decisions and the release of more or less forgivable mistakes like the much mellower, radio-friendly “Stay Hard” and “The Pack Is Back”, desperately hoping to catch a tad of the success achieved by their compatriots Judas, Maiden, and Sabbath, sometimes supported by members (Accept’s Udo) from that same constellation… to no avail.

Inevitable excesses… sorry, excuses after the flop followed, pretty decent back-to-the-roots feats culminating on the excellent “Architect of Fear” in 1991, the most logical follow-up to this “wiping” opus, a boisterous power/speed metal behemoth that also finally suggested at bigger musical prowess that the guys were largely withholding until then, with cleverer more complex configurations those well conformed with the demands of the time. Excluding the more banal modernized delivery on “Glow”, every subsequent album has been a worthy addition to the band’s now voluminous discography, potent blends of open belligerence and measured mainstream appeal, the shadow of this sweeper here looming over, but never threateningly… after all, we don’t want this happy-go-lucky contemporary scene of ours wiped out, do we?

So damn close - 99%

Valfars Ghost, January 7th, 2017

I've been meaning to check this band out for a few years now but it wasn't until I saw the reviews for Wiped Out on the Archives that this British outfit shot up to the top of my list. Three 100 percent reviews (as of the time of this writing)? A perfect average score? This was something I had to experience for myself. Having given it about half a dozen listens, I can say with confidence this is an exemplary album that almost lives up to this absurd level of hype.

Of all the NWOBHM bands, Raven was easily among the most energetic in its heyday. Is it any wonder their unique brand of metal was dubbed athletic rock? Just listen to how full of life these guys sound as they effortlessly shift from one bruising passage to the next. Every song here except ‘20/21’ is a parade of tight, invigorating riffs, rarely slowing down enough to let listeners catch their breaths. Raven, at this point in time, was a trio of musicians whose skill and enthusiasm were both as clear as the air of a pre-industrial Earth. On drums you had Rob Hunter thundering with power and never missing a beat, not even when it was time for him to play this album's trickiest tempo shifts. John Gallagher rocks both the bass and the mic, the former of which tends to get lost below the other layers in the mix. His vocal performance, however, is visibly one of the most impassioned and dramatic in traditional metal history. He’s as adept at singing with a voice that’s a bit gravelly and screechy but never unpleasant as he is at yowling with fury, a perfect way to punctuate many of these vocal lines. John’s brother Mark provides the meat and potatoes the rest of this delicious meal is built around, cranking out a host of powerhouse riffs and leads.

The songwriting is just as fantastic as the performances. Raven stood out among its peers by brandishing an approach to making music that foreshadowed both thrash metal, with its speed and intensity, and more technical metal the likes of Atheist and Spastic Ink would build their careers on. Abrupt stops and tempo changes are fairly common but used sparingly enough to keep you from get tired of them. These shifts have an attention-commanding immediacy to them but never appear at the expense of consistent structuring. One such passage in ‘Fire Power’ is a treat that feeds brilliantly into the final chorus with an intentional, masterful choppiness while ‘Read All About It’ is loaded with diverse passages, all of which pop due to the band’s ability to jump without warning from one to the next.

Despite this tempo-shifting tomfoolery, Raven still had the same knack for catchy writing as any of the other notable NWOBHM bands. These riffs usher you along with power and grace and the melodic leads are enthralling. If you can resist headbanging along to ‘Faster Than the Speed of Light’ or ‘Read All About It’, you probably need to see a doctor to make sure you’re not a robot. The choruses, meanwhile, are masterpieces in and of themselves. The chorus in ‘Bring the Hammer Down’, where John does a bit of call-and-response with the band’s two other members is infectious in its gritty, straightforward attack. ‘Star War’ and ‘To the Limit/To the Top’ are locked in a different mode entirely, with choruses that are more drawn out, with John’s vocals bordering on operatic. Parts like this are often where he brings out his banshee shriek and the music is all the more climactic and satisfying for it.

The only things keeping this album from achieving that coveted perfect score are the soft instrumental '20/21', which adds nothing, and the samples that appear on a few of the songs, namely this part at the end of ‘UXB’ where someone who sounds like a German guy pinching his nose shut says, “Attention, attention, the area is now completely safe,” followed by a few explosions. It should be pointed out, however that the robotic-sounding “Einstein was wrong” in ‘Faster’ is an excellent way to start the album, the soundbite’s atmosphere putting you in exactly the right place for the battering you’re about to endure.

With protothrash riffs, manic, wailing vocals, melodic leads, and even a smattering of abrupt transitions, all brought to life with some of the most energetic performances ever recorded, Wiped Out is a relentlessly satisfying onslaught. As the title suggests, the album will wipe you out with its bludgeoning riffs and mile-a-minute pacing. Much like the aftermath of a bout of passionate sex, that physical exhaustion, that out-of-breath feeling, and that elevated heart rate all signify that something amazing just transpired.

Sure Wiped Me Out! - 100%

Ancient Sunlight, November 24th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Rock Brigade Records

After releasing an estimable debut album, Raven decided to kick it into hyperdrive with their sophomore release, and the result is glorious. Like many NWOBHM bands, they played in clubs, hotels and other small venues for years before releasing anything, and many of the songs on here were written long before the record’s release. The manager of another NWOBHM giant, the Tygers of Pan Tang, originally offered them a single release through the now legendary Neat Records, after seeing them live; and it is due to his prudence that one of the greatest band in the entirety of the NWOBHM were allowed their brief time in the spotlight. Forget their later ventures into commercial territories with Atlantic Records – this here is their brightest moment, recorded while the band members were barely surviving on 50 bucks a week while rocking till they dropped.

This is one of the most furious records I have ever heard. This record is so fervently energetic, so dripping with youthful enthusiasm, that there is no space whatsoever to breathe in between – save for the beautiful instrumental 20-21, which is very brief and enjoyable. Great and fast guitar licks courtesy of Mark Gallagher, hyperactive vocals courtesy of John Gallagher (who also handles the bass competently), and unbelievable drumming by Rob “Wacko” Hunter, the meanest drummer ever heard on a NWOBHM record (whose sad departure from the band was the end of an era for Raven) make up the trio – and what a trio it is!

The moment the band starts playing on the first track, after a humorous intro announcing Einstein’s errors, you know you’re in for a great ride. The guitar blazes on at great speed with a catchy riff, supported by never-ending double bass drumming and John’s alternatively medium-pitched and high-pitched vocal extravaganza. John was classically trained, but his singing is occasionally characterized as “amateurish” and “annoying”, a rather crude judgment. Rather, he purposely delivers completely crazy vocals, the only style properly fitting the ridiculous energy on display every second of this record. There are switches in time signature, stops, sudden speed-ups and slow-downs, yet barely any true pauses. They boys wouldn't let up.

Truly remarkable is how distinct every song is, despite the overlapping elements. There are more anthemic songs like Bring the Hammer Down, Read All About It and Live At The Inferno; more drawn out, epic songs, such as Star War and To The Limit/To The Top (a song so great is required two titles); and there are “non-stop assault” songs like Faster Than the Speed of Light, Chain Saw, and, on the re-release, the completely insane Crash Bang Wallop.

The band crafted a sound which combines elements of hard rock, progressive rock, speed metal and even early thrash metal with the spirit of NWOBHM to create a style wholly unlike anything ever heard again in the history of metal. Even the band members couldn't keep up with the crazy speed of this record, so they allowed “room to breathe” (I quote John Gallagher) in the next record, All For One. It is a shame nothing like this was ever done again. The title was chosen well – it comes from a song from their previous record. The aural assault sure wiped me out!

This has always been a crowning achievement in the history of metal for me, and no one who I have shared it with has ever disappointed. I even play some tracks at parties – even kids who want electronic noise get caught up in the infectious enthusiasm of the record. Get this record if you are at all into NWOBHM, speed metal, thrash metal or hard rock. You will not be disappointed.

Einstein Was Wrong! - 100%

HeavyMetalManiac77, July 27th, 2011

My God. We've got something special right here, ladies and gentlemen. This little monster, Raven's sophomore album, goes by the title of Wiped Out. Raven's debut, Rock Until You Drop, was a classic in and of itself, and easily beats out this album for the Best Cover Art award, but musically, this little guy here blows it out of the grimy, bloodied water. Surely by the time you reach the end of Wiped Out you'll be just that - Wiped Out. You know, from furiously headbanging / masturbating to the tasty licks and solos, ear-splitting screams, and pounding drums that manage to twist this album into form.

I've always liked to think of Raven as the NWOBHM's answer to Rush - a powerhouse trio of musicians with enough musical chops to conjure up delicious images of succulent mutton. On the mic and bass guitar you've got the sorely underrated John Gallagher, crooning his savage howls and ear-splitting chicken shrieks while simultaneously laying down some solid bass lines. On the lead guitar, there's Mark Gallagher, otherwise known as the cute one. This man is the definition of riff master, whipping out sweet licks and solos like it was nothing. The guy left standing over the smoldering pile of what used to be drums at the end of the recording sessions was none other than Rob "Wacko!" Hunter, another monstrous musician that, sadly, would be otherwise unknown to anyone who isn't a NWOBHM/Thrash connoisseur

The album opens with Faster Than the Speed of Light, with it's chill-inducing intro spoken by a sweet alien of some sort, living up to the title of the song. Bring the Hammer Down brings the hammer down - on your ear drums! with it's wicked-heavy hard rock riff. Firepower and Read All About It continue the unrelenting teutonic assault that is this album, while To the Limit To the Top falters a bit, probably being the weakest track this albums got to offer. Battle Zone picks up where the former tracks left off, and (to spare you the mindless droning of praise this album so righteously deserves) that continues for the rest of the album, finally culminating in what I assume was armageddon in the studio at the end of Chainsaw, with Hell itself breaking open amidst the jam.

This album pretty much DEFINES what the whole NWOBHM movement was about. It's a classic and timeless example of how good heavy metal can be when not being played by a bunch of sexually confused emo kids. If you like heavy metal, even just a little bit, you have to listen to this album. This, kiddies, is how it's done. Hats off to Raven, everyone. Round of applause. Standing ovation. All that. ...Now go buy this album.

The best representation of NWOBHM - 100%

Sigillum_Dei_Ameth, November 4th, 2009

Outside of the genres of black, thrash and doom metal, NWOBHM is the one where I truly believe that will sum up the concrete basis of what makes a metal head a metal head. Oh sure, bands from the other said genres are heavier, faster, more extreme, and whatnot, but NWOBHM is heavy metal at it's finest and gets down to the core of what it really is; music for the working-class outcast that wants some action in his life. You know the story; kid comes from a small town, is generally good, not the most popular in school, has trouble with girls, his family works their asses off...and underneath all of these extremely average and humble background lies the embers of youth-filled energy. The embers that when given the proper spark will ignite something riotous and dangerous. The embers that will help the young man grow from mild adolescence into full-fledged testosterone ass-kicking and name-taking animal. This is where NWOBHM takes it's position; the kick-start of the speed, insanity, more intelligent, more stupid, and definitely more wiser of years to come.

Raven were there when it all started. Iron Maiden, Saxon, Motörhead, Def Leppard, Angel Witch, Tygers of Pan Tang, Blitzkrieg, Girlschool, Jaguar, Diamond Head, and Tank, among others. Raven earned their hours of hard work by touring the pubs in New Castle, England and earned their stripes by playing up to 3 or 4 sets in these workingmen's clubs while in between they would serve cheap beer, hold raffles for a simple tray of cold meat or even playing bingo. A lot of the NWOBHM bands had the already now classic image of leather jackets, denim jeans and even a small image, but Raven took it up a notch by donning athletic gear such as hockey masks, shoulder pads, shin gears and the likes that Rob "Wacko" Hunter would take to actually bashing his drum kint creating a frenzied, over-the-top energetic live performance. They would later dub themselves "Athletic Rock". This is how they managed for most of their career and still to this day stick out for the most part from the rest of the metal crowd.

Only being a trio that consisted of brothers John and Mark Gallagher and Rob "Wacko" Hunter, they pulled out all the stops. Guitarist John Gallagher could be and actually is in many ways considered one of the many guitarists that would help give rise to the thrash metal guitar sound. Clear-cut UK glam rock riffs from Slade and Sweet played at a punk-like speed with a hint of heaviness from Black Sabbath, he knew what the hell he was doing and I haven't heard too many guitarists that could stand up to his bonafied signature playing. Bassist and vocalist Mark Gallagher is fingering his bass like there is no tomorrow making it throb with ecstasy and his voice...this guy is a fucking maniac! His bass clearly gives his brother's frenzied guitar the warm thick blood flow backed by Rob "Wacko" Hunter's heart-pumping skeletal like drum work.

Already Raven had issued a full length LP with 4 singles that was enough to establish them at the forefront of the NWOBHM scene. But their second album "Wiped Out" would be not only their classic album, most refined work, but also the best representation of everything that was going on the UK in the early 80's. "Wiped Out" starts out with the song "Faster Than The Speed Of Light" with a chilling sci-fi/fantasy clip of aliens somewhere in space talking to mission about how "Einstein was wrong" and then BOOM! That opening riff gives into the main song where it sounds like the band is playing at such a manic-like ferocity it sounds like they are about to go supernova. Oh and the lyrics are great "Race with the devil - on your marks, get set go/Hellbent onto getting to where I don't know". Those first two lines roll so easily off the tongue considering the song's stamina. "Bring Down the Hammer" has the boot-scooting hard rock boogie of early Motorhead and a slight hint of Budgie as well with lyrics that will make you extend a close fist in the face of those who want to keep you where you are. "Fire Power" might just be the best main riff that Judas Priest never performed on "Rocka Rolla". "Read All About" is a continuation of that song where "To The Limit/To the Top" begins with a much slower, more melodic cut that shows Raven knows how to throw a bit of variety before going back into their crazy band of NWOBHM. The first six second of "Battlezone" has a warped guitar riff that sounds like something out of a cheesy 80's slasher flick. "Live At the Inferno" is THE Raven anthem. It's the anthem of rivet heads bashing out aggression in the clubs. It's the anthem of rivet heads bashing out aggression in the clubs. "Heavy metal mayhem - Let me hear the tremble of that guitar - one more battle scar - The faces will glow/the army will grow - Into the fire and out/and we're blazing". This is the one of the many warnings from Metal before the lesson in violence Exodus would speak to us about. "Star War" is total Black Sabbath heaviness. "UBX" has is a mixture of galloping riffs and total Raven craziness. "20/21" is an instrumental that is purely Spanish acoustic guitar that again proves that Raven are not only talented musicians but are able to keep things from not getting too boring or predictable. "Hold Back the Fire" is perfectly placed at the end of the album seeing that just FITS there, but also as a last minute warning to the ending track "Chainsaw" which is another Raven classic that is up there with "Faster Than the Speed of Light" and "Live At the Inferno". The lyrics take a more sinister tone of a chainsaw-welding maniac at large. Also features the most gritty guitar lead/solo on the whole album.

"Wiped Out" is one of the many classics released in 1982 alongside "Black Metal", "Restless & Wild", "Filth Hounds of Hades", but unfortunately was so damn over-shadowed by the metal masterpieces by both "Number Of The Beast" and "Screaming For Vengeance". The fact that Raven started out at the forefront and were caught up in the middle of the fire that spread not only through the UK but soon over on the opposite of the Atlantic is a clear testament to what metal god Lemmy once said "If you aren't doing the right thing at the right time, you're not going anywhere". Well, fortunately for Raven, they helped introduced an up-and-coming band to their own country in the form of Metallica. It's ironic how they took the back seat but this was due to after their next album "All For One" they basically sold out and wanted to become more commercial and pop-friendly in the form of the homoerotic album "Stay Hard" and the Huey Lewis & the News "The Pack is Back", but for now, in 1982, they were doing pretty damn good. Must have for any devout follower of NWOBHM.